Donegal are bidding to get their league ambitions back on track this Sunday when they entertain Ulster champions Monaghan, in Convoy. (Throw in 2 pm)
The game is Donegal’s fourth in the current campaign and so far they have recorded just one win and have three points on the Division One League table. They are second from the bottom just ahead of Kildare, who have yet to register a point.
Donegal’s win was away to Kildare, while they have lost at home to All-Ireland champions, Cork and away to Laois.
But despite their lowly position, with four home games over the next five weeks, the Donegal girls have not given up on making the last four in the league and a place in the semi-finals.
But if they are, they are going to have to do so with their ace scoring forward Geraldine McLaughlin. The Termon lass, who has been Donegal’s top scorer in the campaign to date and one of the leading forwards in the game, will take no further part in the league due to injury.
McLaughlin is out with cracked ribs picked up in the closing minutes of Donegal’s last game against Laois.
The injury prompted the Donegal board to write a letter of complaint to Croke Park, complaining of the lack of protection Geraldine was receiving from officials in games.
“Geraldine is out for six to eight weeks. She has a number of cracked ribs and we are going to be without her for the rest of the league unless we make the knock-out stages and even at that she will be under pressure to be back,” said manager Micheal Naughton.
“It goes without saying she is a huge loss. She has been our top scorer in the three games to date. But we are just going to have to get on with it. We are lucky that we have a good strong squad; we have four games at home starting on Sunday with Monaghan and our target is still to make the semi-finals. It will probably take two more wins and we feel that we are more than capable of achieving that.
“They are all top sides but we feel we have as good a squad as the rest and it is matter now of going out and producing the football we are capable of playing and that starts this Sunday against Monaghan.
“They are the Ulster champions and beaten All-Ireland finalists and are among the top three teams in the country. But the good thing is that we are at home and that hopefully will be worth a few points.”
Naughton is also planning this week without regular defender Kelly Wilson. The Lifford woman is struggling with a knee injury and is due to undergo a scan in Galway this week and may be out for a few weeks.
But it is not all bad news. Donegal are boosted by the return of Kate Keaney and Ailish Ward, who missed the Laois game, Keaney through injury and Ward due to work commitments.
Both are back on board this weekend and should greatly strengthen Naughton’s hand as he bids for those points to see his side move up the league table and closer to that sought after semi-final place.
But Donegal are up against one of the top teams in the country who will have league ambitions of their own and having dropped the points against Cork, they will also be anxious to build on their last day out victory over Meath and their opening day win over Laois.
Division One table
P W L D F A Pts
Cork 3 3 0 0 52 34 9
Dublin 3 2 1 0 51 24 6
Laois 3 2 1 0 49 32 6
Monaghan 3 2 1 0 39 37 6
Meath 3 1 2 0 30 31 3
Tyrone 3 1 2 0 45 52 3
Donegal 3 1 2 0 39 59 3
Kildare 3 0 3 0 41 77 0